After trying to crack down on teenage sexting by charging offenders with felony child-porn offenses, states are rethinking their approach. Perhaps, some argue, a split-second decision made by an impulsive teen mind should not carry the risk of decades on a sex-offender registry. Nebraska, Utah, and Vermont all changed their laws last year to reduce severity of the penalties in recognition of the sexualized culture that pervades sites like MySpace and Facebook. Fourteen other states are considering new laws that would treat underage sexters differently from adult child pornographers. On Wednesday, a federal appellate court found that a district attorney had gone too far pushing to bring child-porn charges against some 16-year-old girls who sent pictures of themselves in skimpy clothing to peers’ cellphones. Lawyers say such use of the statues have results far from the intent of child-porn laws, which are to protect kids from pedophiles, not severely punish the bad judgment of a high-school student.
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